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Judge: Govt Must Prove Manning Wanted to 'Aid Enemy'

Defense argues lack of speedy trial requires charges be dropped

Beth Brogan, staff writer

Bradley Manning's defense attorney argued at Wednesday's pretrial hearing that the government should drop all charges against his client because he has been denied his right to a speedy trial. When his court martial begins on June 3, he will have been detained 1,101 days. (Photograph: Associated Press)

A military judge ruled Wednesday that in order to convict Bradley Manning of the most serious charge he faces—aiding the enemy—the government must prove that he knew or should have known that the documents he's accused of releasing would be seen by al-Qaida members.

Col. Denise Lind also ruled that Manning's defense lawyers can present evidence that that he purposely selected documents that he knew would not harm the country.

Manning, 25, is accused of handing over about 250,000 diplomatic cables and war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks, including video of a US military helicopter killing a dozen civilians.

At approximately 2 p.m. Wednesday, Kevin Gosztola of Firedoglake tweeted, "Thus far, govt has presented no evidence #Manning knew of some kind of alliance, cooperation or ties between WikiLeaks & Al Qaeda."

An editorial Saturday in the LA Times argued that refusing to dismiss the most serious charge of aiding the enemy "strikes us as excessive in the absence of evidence that Manning consciously colluded with hostile nations or terrorists. A prosecutor indicated that the Army would proceed with flimsier evidence, including information that Osama bin Laden asked an Al Qaeda associate for some of the material that Manning allegedly gave to WikiLeaks. By that theory, the New York Times, which ran some WikiLeaks material, could be accused of espionage if Bin Laden picked up a copy of the paper."

Manning's defense attorney also argued at Wednesday's pretrial hearing that the government must drop all charges against his client because he has been denied his right to a speedy trial.

By the time Manning's trial starts on June 3, he will have been in detention for 1,101 days, although the US Military's Rule for Court Martial requires the time from arrest to trial not exceed 120 days.

As of 4:10 pm., the defense was still making its speedy trial argument, Gosztola wrote.

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